The rapid expansion of Hong Kong’s railway network and the planning of mega projects have boosted demand for railway industry professionals.
To rear railway talent, Chief Executive CY Leung announced the plan to open the MTR Academy in his 2016 Policy Address.
The facility is the Mass Transit Railway’s global training hub for railway management and operation.
Thirty-four-year-old Simon Chan works as an information technology assistant manager in a bank.
He joined the IT industry after graduating university and has worked as an IT professional for nearly a decade.
With a keen interest in the railway industry, Mr Chan enrolled in the MTR Academy’s Advanced Diploma in Railway Engineering programme so he can change professions.
After work, Mr Chan attends class twice a week in the academy’s Hung Hom training centre.
Although he finds it difficult to balance work and study, he enjoys the challenge.
“I like new things, especially in the engineering aspect. IT is used not only in the banking sector, but also the railway industry. The design, maintenance and development of railway communication, payment and passenger volume calculation systems are all possible future careers I can consider.”
After completing his studies, he hopes to find a job that pairs his IT expertise with the railway industry.
The academy officially opened in November and launched the Railway Engineering Advanced Diploma as its first two-year part-time programme.
The course started in January and has been accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic & Vocational Qualifications.
It offers theoretical and practical training, with students gaining experience through job attachments, site visits and meetings with MTR staff.
Students are required to complete nine common core subjects in the first year.
Based on assessment results, students with a higher score will have priority to enter their chosen stream in the second year.
There are four stream subjects: Power Distribution, Signal & Communications, Permanent Way and Rolling Stock.
Thirty-two students are in the programme’s first cohort. Some of them, like Neo Lam, are MTR staff.
He joined the MTR in 2013. He has been a train captain and now works as a depot operation controller.
He said completing the academy’s specialised programme will boost his career prospects.
“After changing posts I found that my knowledge is not adequate as I have not studied mechanical engineering. I hope to expand my engineering knowledge through this course.
“Many things in the railway system, including railway track and compartment control, are related to electric circuits. We also learnt about the entire power supply system and the signal system to gain deeper knowledge in rail management and operation.”
The academy boasts state-of-the-art training facilities, including simulators for a train cab, a control panel station, automatic fare collection and management operations training.
MTR Academy President Morris Cheung said graduates have the opportunity to be employed as a junior engineer or technician.
“The graduates should have great opportunity to find a job in the MTR or in railway-related companies.”
The next round of applications for the Railway Engineering Advanced Diploma programme will open in June.
The academy also offers short courses for the public. Railway 101 enables participants to try simulated driving.
“The Railway 101 Course is mainly an experience for attendees. It enables applicants to fully understand the basic knowledge of railway operations in a two-hour course.”
The courses are proving popular, attracting 200 people so far.